Korey Wise, one of the Central Park Five, is now giving back, hoping to help wrongly convicted inmates, by donating $190,000 to the University of Colorado’s Innocence Project, securing for the program a new lease on life, the Denver Post reports.
The program, which is operated out of the university’s law school, has been renamed the Korey Wise Innocence Project. The generous donation has also allowed the student-led volunteer program to hire a full-time director and provides financial support for its investigative work, the site notes.
The Colorado Law chapter is just one part of the Innocence Project, a national nonprofit that is dedicated to exonerating the wrongly convicted through DNA testing.
Wise was only 16 when he was convicted as an adult for the brutal 1989 attack and rape of a female jogger in New York City’s Central Park in a case that shocked the nation.
The teen went on to spend more than a decade in prison before being exonerated in 2002, after another man admitted to the horrific attack and DNA testing confirmed that he was there. Wise was exonerated, along with four other young men who were convicted in the case.
The men who became famously known as the Central Park Five settled last year with New York City for $41 million. Wise is now 42.
Wise’s attorney said that Wise wanted to actively take part in a program related to wrongful convictions, and discovered that making a donation specifically to the University of Colorado’s chapter would have more of an impact than donating to the national nonprofit.
“This opportunity came up where he could give to a program that really needed it,” attorney Jane Fisher-Byrialsen told the Post. “He thought his money would make a big difference here, and I think it already has.”
At this program, the site notes, about 35 law students are investigating 26 different cases in the state, with 200 pending applications waiting to be examined, the program’s new director, Kristy Martinez, revealed. For those convicted, this work is often their last chance to have their names cleared and to be exonerated, which is why Wise decided to put his money there.
“There’s not many other avenues, other than these types of programs,” Fisher-Byrialsen added. “It’s very difficult. It’s time-consuming, and you have to do it pro bono. People who are serving 25-to-life are not going to have money to pay you.”
Read more at the Denver Post.